Sunday, January 04, 2015

New Year's Supper: Luxurious but Easy

This New Year, I felt for something special but really couldn't be bothered to spend the whole day cooking a dinner.  It would just be family, so I decided on a menu of foods that we really love to eat and to eat the way we love, by which I mean lots of little things eaten at the bar in the kitchen, rather than a sit down formal affair.

To start, we had Gravad Lax.  My father-in-law, a former butcher and fish monger pronounced it excellent, which is in my book, the highest praise possible.

Then, we had my version of Oysters Rockefeller.  This delectable dish is supposed to have been created by the famous New Orleans restaurant Antoine's and named after the then American's richest family.  There are many recipes out there but it is claimed that no one has recreated the original correctly.  I don't care about that, however, because my version tastes delicious and everyone that I have ever made it for has been equally entranced.

Up next was a dish of scallops that Peter recreated after eating them at the wonderful restaurant Fäiviken near Åre.  At that magical meal, we were served the largest scallops we had ever seen, from Norway we were told, served simply in its own shell with a bit of butter and set to cook over juniper smoke.  There really isn't a recipe for this.  You put a pat of butter into the scallop shell and put them over the BBQ which has been topped with juniper branches and let the smoke infuse the scallops, while the heat cooks them. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good photo of these.

Our main course was a pasta with lobster sauce, where I was trying to recreate the wonderful pasta I have had several times in Italy. The secret to infusing the sauce with lobster flavor is to fry the shells in the oil that you will use in the dish.  It is impossible to recreate the flavor of eating this dish while sitting on a sunny terrace in Italy, but I was pleased enough with the result to eat a third helping, which I do not advise but seemed a very good idea at the time.

Finally, we finished with some madeleines and a rich salted chocolate rye cookie, made famous by the San Francisco bakery Tartine, but which I had for the first time at the Green Rabbit here in Stockholm.  Do not think I was so ambitious as to make two desserts.  The madeleine batter takes just a few minutes to throw together and I had some left over chocolate cookie dough in the freezer, which I garnished with candied orange peel instead of sea salt.

After all of that, I could barely move, so I waddled over to the sofa and lay down, nursing my excellent glass of Quinta Do Vallado 10 Year old Tawny Port.  And fell asleep well before midnight. Which was fine by me.  Happy New Year!

 Oysters Rockefeller

Allow at least 2 per person, or 6 if you are greedy.

The hardest thing about Oysters Rockefeller is to shuck the oysters.  Luckily, Peter is excellent and this task and does it happily.  If you don’t know how to do it, you can find a good description here.

2 dozen oysters, shucked on the half-shell
One package frozen spinach, about 500 grams
150 to 200 grams bacon, diced finely
About 1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to garnish
Breadcrumbs to garnish

Heat some olive oil or butter in a pan on medium heat and add the bacon, diced fine.  When the bacon is cooked, almost to how you like to eat it, add in a big sploge of cream and the packet of frozen spinach.  Stir occasionally while the spinach thaws and cooks for a minute.  Salt and pepper to taste.  The spinach will let out a bit of water, so let the water cook down so that the cream is thick, about 10 minutes.  If you think it does not look creamy enough, add some more cream.  Be careful not to salt too much, because the oysters will be salty.  If you like, you can add the juice from the oysters into the spinach which will add both salt and bit of sea flavour. 

When the oysters are shucked, arrange them on a baking pan.  You can use the other half of the shell to try to stabilize them so that they lay nicely on the tray.  Put a good tablespoon or so of the spinach mixture on each oyster, smoothing the mixture over so that the oyster is covered.  If you have leftover spinach, it makes a good omelette filling for your breakfast the next day.  Sprinkle a bit of breadcrumbs and a generous layer of parmesan over each oyster.  Bake in a hot oven, about 220 C (425 f) for about 10 minutes or until the parmesan is nicely coloured and the spinach is bubbling.  Eat while hot.

Lobster Pasta

Serves 4 to 6 persons
2 cooked medium sized lobsters
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 onion or a couple of shallots
4 garlic cloves
One packet cherry tomatoes (minus the ones your son ate during the day)
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
Splash of white wine (or more lemon juice)
Large handful of fresh basil
250 grams of spaghetti
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried red chili pepper to taste, if desired

Remove all the meat from the lobster, reserving the shells.  Do this by splitting the lobster in half.  Pull out the tail meat.  Remove each claw by twisting and use a knive to cut the shells so that you can remove the meat.  Chop the meat roughly into bite sized pieces.  You can also get the meat out of each tiny leg by using a rolling pin along the leg but I usually can’t be bothered.

Heat a large pot of water, add some salt and cook the spaghetti according to the instructions.

Meanwhile, chop the onions and garlic finely.  Quarter each cherry tomato.  Chop the basil coarsely.

Heat up a large frying pan with 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Fry the lobster shells on medium high heat for a few minutes until you can smell the lobster scent and the oil takes on some color from the shells.  Remove the shells, shaking them to keep as much oil as possible in the pan.

Throw in the pan the onions and let cook on medium heat until translucent.  Throw in the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to keep the garlic from burning.  Add in the tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon zest, splash of wine, and chili pepper, if desired.  Cook for about ten minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.  Season with salt and pepper.  

About two minutes before the pasta is done, throw in the lobster pieces and basil, reserving a bit for garnish and heat gently.  Add a further tablespoon or two of olive oil. Taste the mixture and correct the seasoning.  If the mixture seems to be a bit dry, add a few tablespoons of the pasta water.  When the spaghetti is cooked, add to the mixture and toss until the spaghetti is fully coated with the sauce.  Garnish with basil.  It is not considered “correct” to eat seafood pastas with parmesan, but add some anyway, if you like.


Anonymous said...

Great LL!! I didn't know you were blogging Happy 15!!!

S Winoto said...

Seafood feast is fun! That's what we had last Christmas. We are gonna have some crab feast this sat with a friend. She is from Granada and she made awesome Granadian crab dish.

Your oyster Rockefeller looks so good. I may try it soon.